GPS and GLONASS, A More Accurate Running Watch


Raise your hand if you’re guilty of being a compulsive run tracker. I know I am. I mean, did the run even happen if you have no record of it? Beyond the compulsion to log your miles, tracking is beneficial because it provides you with helpful data on your distance, pace, and elevation gain. Knowing this data can help you improve your training and accurately measure your efforts.

Accuracy is important. And just as important, being able to pick up a signal in the first place. We’ve all been on that run when our GPS watch is not picking up a signal. Ready to just call it quits, you hold you wrist in the air, praying to the gods of navigation that you can begin your run again and be tracked accordingly.

Situations like that call for a watch that features both GPS and GLONASS.



Photo courtesy of NASA

GPS, or Global Positioning System, is the United State’s system of satellites that provide tracking and location information for any location on the globe that has an unobstructed line of sight to 4 or more of their satellites. GPS is comprised of 31 satellites that orbit the globe at a height of 19130 km and with an orbital plane inclination of 55 degrees. GPS gives you an accurate location within 3.5-7.8 m.



Photo courtesy of

GLONASS is Russia’s version, and it stands for Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema, aka Global Navigation Satellite System for those of us who don’t speak Russian. With several fewer satellites than GPS, GLONASS is comprised of 24 and they are at an orbital height higher than GPS at 21150 Km. They also differ in orbital plane inclination, tilted at 64.8 degrees. GLONASS provides your position with 5–10 m of accuracy.


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Photo courtesy of Garmin on Instagram (@garminfitness)

Using both GPS and GLONASS together, you get a great amount of coverage because you are provided with more information. With over 55 satellites that span the skies when you combine both systems, you are more likely to pick up a signal in places where before you held your wrist to the sky in angst. You also get the benefit of having up to 2-meter accuracy, which is very precise. In relation to your running watch, if your device receives information from both GPS and GLONASS, you’re in for a more accurate tracking experience. So if you happen to be in a spot where GPS isn’t picking up your signal, GLONASS can relay its information to you so there is no gap in coverage, and vice versa. Another benefit of having both GPS and GLONASS working together comes when you’re running on a course with tight turns, as in a lot of trail running. The heightened accuracy will help track fine movements more precisely.

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